# Is there a difference in the 'quality' of a gas if it's heated by electromagnetic radiation as opposed to conduction/convection?

According to this link, "The wavelength at which the $$O_2$$ molecule most strongly absorbs light is approximately $$145$$ nm."

According to this link, that's in the ultraviolet range of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Consider two tanks containing oxygen gas, both equivalent. One tank has a steady stream of $$145$$ nm ultraviolet light being emitted on it, while the other has a flame warming the bottom of the tank.

The temperature of the oxygen in both tanks will increase. Say we calibrate the experiment so both tanks reach $$10^{\circ}$$ C (and that nothing explodes)

My question is, is there any difference in the oxygen contained in one tank vs. the other? In other words, is there any experiment that could be done to determine whether some oxygen came from one tank or the other?

Or, since they are at the same temperature, are they equivalent?

The question arises because from what I understand, a gas molecule heats up by radiative absorption by absorbing a photon, which excites the electrons in it, while the mechanism by which it is heated via conduction/convection is different (molecules bumping into each other ?), and I'm not sure if this results in a different "quality" of heated gas.

• The configuration of two tanks is unclear. Also, are you asking about heating mechanism or about resulting thermodynamic state - which is independent on the mechanism? Mar 10, 2023 at 17:00
• According to this site skydayproject.com/…. Very high energy UV rays (with a wavelength shorter than 240 nm) are absorbed by molecular oxygen, causing the molecule to split into two individual oxygen atoms. From there, an individual oxygen atom can react with molecular oxygen to form ozone. Mar 10, 2023 at 17:09

As noted in @Bob_D's comment, 145 nm radiation is going to convert many oxygen (O$$_2$$) molecules into ozone (O$$_3$$). Ozone is unstable and eventually reverts to molecular oxygen, but its half-life is long enough that it could be detected for quite some time.
The half-life of ozone in a glass vessel initially filled with 10% O$$_3$$ and 90% O$$_2$$at at ambient temperature and pressure is about 20 hours. The lifetime is less is some other types of vessels, e.g. it is only about an hour in brass. Ambient surface ozone levels are $$<10^{-7}$$, so an oxygen tank initially filled with 10% ozone might be distinguishable for about 20 half-lives, i.e. a couple of weeks.
Of course, figuring out how long your two tanks would be distinguishable is not so simple. Even if you specified many more details, it is not trivial to estimate the initial ozone concentrations and their decay. A 172 nm lamp in dry oxygen at 300K can produce 400 g/kWh of ozone (assuming 100% wall plug efficiency). The specific heat of oxygen is 0.92 J/gK, so a crude dimensional estimate is that we might expect the ozone concentration to be $$\sim 10^{-4}K^{-1} \Delta T$$. Increasing the temperature of oxygen by $$10$$K with a UV lamp should roughly produce $$\sim 0.1\%$$ ozone concentration, which could be distinguishable for a week or so.